Forager Shane Harrison Finds Dinner in London
Shane Harrison, a New Zealander who came to London in 2002 via Ireland, has opened two restaurants, Shane’s on Canalside and Shane’s on Chatsworth. Harrison has also embraced foraging as a staple in his cooking.
“There’s stuff everywhere that you can use,” Harrison explains to the Islington Gazette’s Zoe Paskett. “These leaves here [are] sorrel. You’ll find these all through summer. I’ve got a few patches; I’ll take a bit here and then go somewhere else.”
“I take four or five leaves off each one, leave it growing and don’t rip everything out,” he says. “You know that there’s going to be a patch there for most of spring and summer.”
For a beginner level forager, identifying plants can seem like a daunting task, especially if you’re nervous about poisoning yourself, as any sane person would be. Harrison is a great advocate of Googling plants to make sure you’re picking what you think you’re picking.
“But when you’re foraging, the rule of thumb is rub it on your lip and wait 15 minutes to see if you’re reacting to it. If there’s nothing, you can try a tiny wee bit. The lip is a good reader.
“I’ve had to learn a lot about the English plants. They’re totally different to New Zealand. You can eat what the birds eat. Here you can’t because they eat a lot of poisonous berries. If you’re stuck in the bush, watch the birds.”
“Hackney has been fantastic in their parks,” Harrison says. “They’ve planted a lot of the fruit trees. That was a programme about three years ago and now they’re coming into fruition where you can actually take the fruit. What’s lovely is they’re planted a load of raspberries along here, and loganberries.
“I think that’s what’s lovely about London; they’ve allowed this to happen.”
Original article by Zoe Paskett, Islington Gazette, March 9, 2017.